President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed he “wasn’t a fan” of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who this week was charged with sex trafficking of minors.
“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him, I mean people in Palm Beach knew him. He was a fixture in Palm Beach,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan.”
Trump told New York Magazine in 2002 that Epstein was a “terrific guy” and even referenced the billionaire’s attraction to women “on the younger side.”
“He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump said at the time. “No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
A Trump Organization lawyer told the Washington Post on Monday that Trump had banned Epstein from visiting Mar-A-Lago in 2007 when Epstein was first charged with child sex abuse.
On Tuesday in the Oval Office, Trump also defended Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who as a federal prosecutor in Florida oversaw Epstein’s astonishingly light plea deal in his criminal case in 2008.
“I feel very badly actually for Secretary Acosta, because I’ve known him as being somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job,” Trump said. “I feel badly about that whole situation.”
Trump also said that “everybody else” in the criminal justice system would probably look back on their past decisions and “wish they maybe did it a different way.”
“I do hear that there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him,” Trump added.
Watch Trump speak below:
Trump distances himself from Jeffrey Epstein: "I wasn't a fan" pic.twitter.com/cYXKAztfmW
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 9, 2019